Tues., Oct. 23, 2018
Deuteronomy 26:11 – Then celebrate all the good things the Lord your God has done for you and your family—each one of you along with the Levites and the immigrants who are among you.
The house is now so quiet. So very quiet.
No conversations in multiple rooms. No action in the kitchen. No game going on around the dining room table.
Just me and my thoughts after a few days of every inch of our 3,000 square foot house being well occupied and used.
Over the weekend, several first cousins from my Mom’s side of the family, as well as members of my immediate family, gathered at our house for a little reunion. The last time this many of my first cousins were together was 15 years ago at my Grandma Sower’s funeral.
My Mom had one sister six years older and a brother 11 years younger. My parents grew up in Iowa. They moved to Wisconsin after being married. I have basically lived my life in Wisconsin. My siblings and I did not grow up with our cousins nearby. All of my cousins lived in other states. While we “knew” each other, we haven’t really “known” each other.
Not all of our Sowers cousins were able to be together this weekend. When we started planning this get together, I was clear. Whoever could make it, great! If you couldn’t make it, this was OK as well. Life happens. One cousin who planned on being in Wisconsin ended up moving our remaining aunt multiple states this same weekend. We understood this was priority.
Over the course of the weekend, we had a different mix of people at various times. We ate, visited, played games, shared stories from our past and present, had loud card games, went through pictures and items my Mom had saved, and truly enjoyed just being together. Here are a few things I discovered about my cousin family this weekend:
- There are over 40 years between my eldest Sowers cousin and my youngest Sowers cousins. What we know, remember and our observations of our Grandparents is quite different. Some of these cousins never knew my Grandpa Sowers. We all knew my Grandma Sowers because she lived into her 90’s.
- Growing up as members of different generations and in different locations around the U.S. has colored our worlds. Yet, we have this connecting factor of family blood. We ARE family.
- It’s OK for us to have different memories, experiences and connections with our family heritage. There isn’t a “right” way or memory. For example, we had alvelskiers for dinner one night; a traditional Danish food that is a crossover between a pancake and a donut. It was interesting to hear what different branches of our family tree ate with alvelskiers.
- Having time together outside of a funeral and over a couple days allowed for conversations to grow between people. We discovered that we “like” being together and sharing our lives with each other.
- Wisconsin October weather is unpredictable. Our cousins saw rain, snow, sleet, wind and sunshine all in a few hours on Saturday. Some family members took in the University of Wisconsin-Madison football game, with one cousin experiencing a true Wisconsin Big 10 football game.
When people are asked what is most important to them, the word “family” always rises to the top. How “family” is defined varies greatly. There is no one recipe for how families interact and spend time together. For us, simply hanging out and going through Grandma Sower’s jewelry box became a great opportunity to share stories, our lives and our common heritage.
Like many such gatherings, there were conversations about how and when we might get together again. I pray these plans evolve and develop. Today, I am so grateful several family members put their lives on hold if only for a few hours, traveled to our little piece of the world sometime over the weekend and spent time together as Sowers cousins. It truly was a great weekend.
For family cousins and the ability to spend time together, I am grateful.
Lord God – thank you for family, time together and shared history. I pray families choose to focus on the things that draw them together rather than the disappointment that can pull families apart. Thank you for your Holy Spirit which is the glue that holds families together. Amen.
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